My dad called me this past Sunday. That alone wasn’t unexpected. He and my mom often call on Sundays. In fact I’m a little shocked when they don’t call on Sundays. Sundays are our time to catch up.
So, when they called, I figured any number of things might be on the agenda, including but not limited to: did we go to church, how’s the family doing, was it cold in Colorado and what did I think about the NFL games that were on the TV?
I think we talked about those things, but quite frankly, I can’t remember because dear old dad dropped a bombshell on me.
“I’ve accepted a job,” he said.
I won’t lie. There was a long, long pause on my end of the line, then a giggle, followed by a belated response.
“No, really?” I finally said.
“Really,” he said. “I start Tuesday.”
Let me give some backstory. My dad is my hero. Maybe, briefly, as a kid, I held a brighter light up to Larry Bird and Roger Staubach. Sure, I cried and got in fistfights and wanted to throw up when their teams lost. But that was kid stuff and when I became a man I put away such childish things (just ask my wife if I don’t weep when my favorite teams lose these days).
But dad, yeah, dear old dad, that guy that’s already cast an unimaginably long shadow that my brothers and I have even quit trying to step out from under, yeah, that guy. He’s taken another job at 81. Just in case you’re wondering, that’s not a typo — eighty-one years old. An octogenarian. Correction—a working octogenarian.
This job he’s accepted, it’s not as a Walmart greeter, not that there’s anything wrong with that. He’s going back to the academic world to run another law school. That’s his gig or has been since I’ve been alive. Before that he was a district attorney in Mississippi during the Civil Rights era. He put away bad, bad men. He received death threats. Then he went back to school where he taught John Grisham and Sen. Thad Cochran and a whole lot of other folks a whole lot more famous than his sons.
Whenever I would visit him I’d take a peek at his desk and look at the collection of his treasured photos. There’s mom, John Grisham, Clarence Thomas… wait, where’s the other guys, the progeny? It’s become a family joke, those photographs. We joke a lot. Dad knows all the ones about lawyers, from the minds of Shakespeare to Seinfeld. As any good legal professional, he has a lawyer joke book on the shelf.
So he can pardon me when I thought this whole job thing was another gag until he filled in the details. But lawyers, they’re all about specificity, and he carried the story on a little long for him to be “punking” me.
At this point, all I can say is: “Dad, you sly fox, congrats. I hope you work until you’re ninety. Oh, and I now know what to get you for Christmas. An 8×11 glossy of yours truly.”
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